Second presidential debate canceled after Trump refuses to hold it virtually

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday that it has canceled the Oct. 15 debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden after Trump declined to go along with the plan to hold it virtually.

“CPD announced that for the health and safety of all involved, the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, would be conducted virtually,” the nonprofit corporation said in a statement released late Friday. “Subsequently, the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date.”

In the wake of Trump’s positive test for COVID-19, the CPD had opted to hold the second debate online out of safety concerns.

“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the CPD said in a statement earlier on Friday. “The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”

Trump, however, was quick to say that he would not participate if the debate in Miami was not held in person.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Joe Biden and Donald Trump at the first presidential debate in Cleveland. (Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

“I am not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said in a Thursday night interview with Fox Business.

The Trump campaign issued a statement saying that Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley had cleared him to participate in the Oct. 15 event, but held fast to the president’s insistence that the two candidates appear alongside one another onstage in Miami.

With Trump hedging on participating in a virtual debate, Biden made other plans, booking a town hall event with ABC News for the scheduled date.

A third debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, and Biden’s campaign made clear that they intend to honor that date.

“We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. “Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That’s his choice.”

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien suggested Friday that the CPD’s motivation for cancelling the Oct. 15 debate was political.

“We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead,” Stepien said.


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